Rapid and Repetitive COVID-19 Testing Needed for Cancer Care

Treatment for cancer patients in the United Kingdom has been stopped or delayed due to COVID-19. In a press release, Cancer Research UK has called for widespread testing in the cancer patient population.

With pressures on the health service increasing, National Health Service (NHS) staff are drawn away from cancer care in order to care for AOVID-19 patients. Further, weakened immune system is a common comorbidity among cancer patients, making spending time in a hospital unsafe. The NHS is working to created COVID-free centers and hospitals that will ensure that the most urgent cancer patients can receive treatment; however, that process requires widespread and frequent testing of both patients and NHS staff. According to the press release, “For a hospital to be  truly safe to treat cancer patients, we need rapid testing available for all staff and patients, whether showing symptoms of COVID-19 or not, occurring on a routine and repetitive basis.”

Sarah Woolnough, executive director of policy and information at Cancer Research UK, said, “The pandemic has left cancer diagnosis and treatment in a precarious position, and one of the ways that the NHS is adapting to ensure patients are receiving vital testing is through COVID-19 free centers or hospitals. But this won’t be possible without the appropriate testing of all staff and patients.”

The COVID-19 free centers will provide a “safe environment for both staff and cancer patients now that testing efforts are escalating quickly,” Charles Swanton, chief clinician at Cancer Research UK, said. “Staff in hospitals around the country are working extremely hard and with more testing of staff and patients—with and without symptoms—we will have hospitals and centers free from COVID-19 where patients can be treated safety, and post-operative complications can be minimized.”